Monday, January 31, 2011

Kindling Words 2011

Last weekend, I attended Kindling Words, an annual writing retreat for writers, illustrators, and editors that takes place in northern Vermont. This was my second time going, and I loved every second of it.

One of the highlights was the Saturday night bonfire. Dressed in our warmest clothes, we all trekked out behind the hotel and clustered around a campfire. We each brought a wish or a resolution or a dream that we'd written on a piece of paper -- the idea is that if we burn the paper, our wish will come true.

After watching a few other people toss their dreams into the flames, I crumpled mine and threw it into the fire. Wind blew it out onto the edge of the embers. I darted in and snagged it. Second try, I tossed it harder toward the center of the logs. Wind tossed it out, and it skittered over the ice. Third try, I tried an underhand toss. It rode the smoke out to land next to a smoldering log. Fourth try, I scooted around the campfire and threw it onto the fire with the wind at my back. The paper uncurled so that the words were facing the sky, and the flames ate it from the outside in.

I retreated back to the circle of writers and illustrators and editors, and I said that I was worried that maybe it meant my wish wouldn't come true -- the fire didn't seem to want it. And the person next to me said don't worry. Maybe it meant that my wish would come true but I needed perseverance.

I liked that. I liked that very much.

Certainly a much nicer interpretation than my being an idiot for throwing it into the wind three times before it occurred to me to move to the other side of the fire.

Anyway, I think it's a nice metaphor for writing. We're tossing our dreams into the fire and hoping they burn true. Sometimes it takes a LOT of tosses. Important thing is to keep trying.

Also, if the wind is in your face... MOVE.

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Monday, January 17, 2011

Cover Art for DRINK, SLAY, LOVE!!!

Got an email from my editor with the most gorgeous present ever -- the cover art for my next YA novel, DRINK, SLAY, LOVE! I am deliriously in love with it, and I can't wait to share it with you. So without further ado...

(Please pat your hands on your lap so we have drum roll sound effects. Also, imagine a red velvet curtain raising up. And maybe a few trumpets.)

... the cover art for DRINK, SLAY, LOVE!


I love, love, love it! It fits the novel so perfectly! That's Pearl with her never-seen-the-sun skin and beautiful black hair and sardonic smile. You see, this is how the book opens:

"One hour until dawn," Pearl said. She leapt off the roof and landed catlike on the pavement. "Oodles of time, if we steal a car."

This cover is totally her.

DRINK, SLAY, LOVE is about Pearl, a vampire girl who develops a conscience after she is stabbed through the heart by a unicorn's horn. It's coming out September 13, 2011 from Simon & Schuster / McElderry Books.

I don't know the names of the cover artists/designers yet, but whoever you are... I think you are brilliant!!! Thank you (and everyone at Simon & Schuster) for this gorgeousness.

So... what do you guys think??? Do you like it?

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Saturday, January 15, 2011

Icy Research

There is a lot of snow outside here. A LOT of snow!!!

All the snow makes me think of the time that I spent listening to the whisper and crackle of the crumbling frozen sea and plotting the journey of the sun as it circles the horizon at the top of the world.

I wasn't in the Arctic in person. I've never been there. But for months at a time, I lived there in my head.

One of the things that I love about being a writer is that you have a legitimate excuse to immerse yourself in another world. While I wrote my novel Ice, I listened to Arctic-themed music. I watched documentaries about the Arctic. I plastered my desk area with photos of the Arctic and covered the floor with maps. And I read and read and read.

I devoured everything that I could get my hands on that had to do with my new world -- dozens of nature guides, survival guides, polar bear books, and explorer memoirs. I'm the only person I know who owns a North Slope Barrow dialect Inupiaq-English dictionary.

My favorite research books were:

- A Naturalist's Guide to the Arctic by E. C. Pielou
- Walking on Thin Ice by David Hempleman-Adams
- The SAS Survival Guide

And the most inspirational book was:

- East o' the Sun and West o' the Moon, illustrated by P. J. Lynch

There is a common misconception that research isn't necessary for fantasy novels. After all, it's made up. But you're asking readers to believe in the impossible. If you build that impossible dream in the middle of a sea of real details... well, then your ice castle won't be standing on air. You'll be able to walk inside.

I'm often asked about the research that I did for Ice. So for those of you who are interested, below is a bibliography of the books that inspired and influenced the world of Ice:

- Abridged Inupiaq and English Dictionary by Edna Ahgeak MacLean
- Arctic Daughter by Jean Aspen
- Arctic Dreams by Barry Lopez
- The Boy Who Found the Light: Eskimo Folktales by DeArmond
- Camping and Wildernness Survival by Paul Tawrell
- The Dancing Fox, Arctic Folktales ed. by John Bierhorst
- Dictionary of Native American Mythology by Sam D. Gill and Irene F. Sullivan
- East o' the Sun and West o' the Moon by P. J. Lynch
- East of the Sun and West of the Moon by Laszlo Gal
- East of the Sun and West of the Moon by Nancy Willard
- East of the Sun and West of the Moon by Mercer Mayer
- East of the Sun and West of the Moon by Kathleen and Michael Hague
- The Encyclopedia of Native American Religions by Arlene Hirschfelder and Paulette Molin
- The Eskimo Storyvteller, Folktales from Noatak, Alaska by Edwin S. Hall, Jr.
- The Girl Who Dreamed Only Geese, and Other Tales of the Far North by Howard Norman
- Handbook of North American Indians, v.5 Arctic edited by Sturtevant
- How to Speak Alaskan edited by Mike Doogan
- How to Stay Alive in the Woods by Bradford Angier
- How to Survive on Land and Sea, 4th edition, by Frank C. Craighead, Jr. and John J. Craighead
- Julie of the Wolves, Julie, and Julie's Wolf Pack by Jean Craighead George
- Icebound Summer by Sally Carrighar
- The Iñupiat and Arctic Alaska by Norman A. Chance
- Kingdom of the Ice Bear by Hugh Miles and Mike Salisbury
- The Last Wind Edge by Susan Zwinger
- Mountaineering Medicine by Fred T. Daville, Jr. MD
- Native American Myth and Legend, An A-Z of People and Places by Mike Dixon-Kennedy
- A Naturalist's Guide to the Arctic by E.C. Pielou
- The Nature of North America by David Rockwell
- Northern Tales edited by Howard Norman
- Names, Numbers and Northern Policy: Inuit, Project Surname, and the Politics of Identity by Valerie Alia
- Over the Edge: Flying with the Arctic Heroes by K.C. Tessendorf
- Over the Top of the World by Will Steger and Jon Bowermaster
- Polar Attack by Richard Weber and Mikhail Malakhov
- Polar Bears by Ian Stirling
- Polar Bears by Nikita Ovsyanikov
- Polar Bears: Living with the White Bear by Nikita Ovsyanika
- Running North by Ann Mariah Cook
- SAS Survival Guide
- A Snow Walker’s Companion by Garrett and Alexandra Conover
- The Survival Handbook by Peter Darman
- To the Arctic by Steven B Young
- Up North by Doug Bennet and Tim Tiner
- Walking on Thin Ice by David Hempleman-Adams
- White Bear by Charles T. Feazel
- Wilderness First Aid by William Forgey, MD
- The World of the Polar Bear by Norbert Rosing

To the authors of all the above books: Thank you for sharing your world!

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Thursday, January 06, 2011

Hello 2011!

Snoopy Dance of Joy! Revisions are DONE!!!

This week, I sent off the revised manuscript for DRINK, SLAY, LOVE, my next novel. Cue dance music.

To be honest, I'm always a little bereft when I finish revisions. I adore revising, and I particularly adored working on this novel. This one was fun from start to finish. I am going to miss Pearl and Evan and Bethany and Jadrien and Antoinette and Matt and Zeke... But I can't wait to introduce you to them!

I have a date for that introduction: the official pub date for DRINK, SLAY, LOVE is September 13, 2011. It's on Amazon already, as well as GoodReads, which makes it feel a lot more real.

Still feels futuristic to write 2011. We're only four years away from the future date in Back to the Future II. And I still don't possess the skills to handle a hover-skateboard. Or, you know, a regular skateboard.

Anyway, these revisions are my excuse for my absence from this blog for the last month. I received the revision letter from my editor just after Thanksgiving. Given the way my family does holidays (sprawled across the entire month), the end of 2010 was VERY busy. But it was busy with family and writing, my two favorite things.

Also, lots of cookies.

Perfect way to end a year (and start a new one!).

So goodbye, 2010! Hello, 2011! And happy New Year, everyone! Wishing you all a year filled with health, happiness, and all of your favorite things!

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